Brown talks health care, hate crimes at town hall in Crofton
At a town hall Monday night at Crofton Community Library, Rep. Anthony Brown discussed subjects ranging from international boycotts to local hospitals with a room full of constituents.
He weighed in on national issues like health care. Brown said he is for single-payer health care — he has been the beneficiary of it himself, he said, during his time in the U.S. Army.
He also commented on transgendered persons serving in the military, saying the military should want anyone who is ready, willing and able to serve.
He weighed in on state issues as well. Brown said he supports a wind farm that's planned off the coast of Ocean City.
And he also touched on subjects more closely connected to Anne Arundel County residents, including the dispute between CareFirst and Anne Arundel Medical Center, in which the medical system has threatened to drop the major insurance provider unless an agreement on fees can be reached.
Brown said he has sat down with CareFirst officials, and plans to meet with Anne Arundel Medical Center officials soon.
"It would be a major set back for the community, and that's an understatement," Brown said.
Brown said Anne Arundel Medical Center is a good system overall, and noted that his son was born at the system's hospital. He has a letter going out to both parties on the subject, because the people who are going to pay are the insured who use Anne Arundel Medical Center, he said.
"CareFirst cannot position itself as the major carrier in the state and then turn around and start holding providers hostage. But on the flip-side, our providers have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure that they continue to drive down the cost of care," Brown said.
Brown also weighed in on the subject of bullying and hate crimes, when asked what he is doing to "combat the tolerance for bullying that [President Donald Trump] is fostering."
"Over last year, and certainly since the November Election, but even during the course of the campaign, we've seen a rise in extremist language, in behavior, in a lot of conduct that would be classified as hate crimes by many," Brown said.
Brown discussed an increase in hate crimes on college campuses, and mentioned the murder of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III this May. Collins, a Bowie State University student who was close to graduation and had been commissioned into the Army, was murdered on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park, in May.
Maryland student Sean Urbanski, of Severna Park, has been charged with his murder. Police have said Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group called "Alt-Reich: Nation," which they said contained racist posts.
At a press conference earlier this month, Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said a jury had indicted Urbanski on a charge of common-law murder, but that there wasn't enough evidence to charge Urbanski with a hate crime — though the motive of the crime is still being investigated, and hate crime charges could come later, she said.
"In my mind, in Anthony Brown's mind, that's a hate crime because the evidence that we know about of this young man is that he affiliated with, associated with, visited, social media websites and other sources that espoused extremist views from groups like the Alt-Reich Nation," he said.
Brown said something needs to be done on college campuses, regarding extremist views that tend to lead to violent behavior. He said he intends to introduce a bill in September putting greater requirements on colleges and universities, adding that it was about finding the right line between freedom of expression and extremist views that lead to violence.
"We have got to do something on college campuses," Brown said. "I know its not going to change actions and behaviors and change hearts from cold to kind, but I certainly know I can work with my colleagues to change the conditions in which people operate, and [I'm] hoping it'll make a difference."
Brown said he will also introduce a bill in September that will get the ball moving on providing tuition-free community college.